The downside of upstands: badly-installed Cambridge Kerbs on Arbury Road cause hazards for cyclists

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 146.

Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

The Cambridge News recently carried a high-profile report of a crash that took place on the renovated section of Arbury Road. We have also received several lower-profile reports of people falling off their bikes while transitioning between carriageway and cycle lane. I became very concerned that people were being seriously injured, especially on brand new infrastructure, and went to take a look at the situation.

The photographs that I took make the situation quite clear: there is an unexpected and undesirable ‘upstand’: the height difference between the carriageway and the edge of the Cambridge Kerb. This is not how it is supposed to be installed, as the manufacturer’s website says:

‘The kerb we designed, named Cambridge Kerb, […] has a 12.5 degree horizontal profile, creating a gentle and smooth transition between the carriageway and the new cycle lane.’

At Camcycle, we know from long experience dealing with incidents like this that even a 10mm upstand can be enough to throw a person off a bike if approached at an oblique angle, particularly in the wet. That’s one of the reasons we try to identify such problems in the planning application or detailed design phase of developments or schemes. If a cycle route requires people to cycle across a kerb at an oblique angle then it has to be a ‘flush’ kerb, meaning that the upstand is less than 6mm tall.

We will be asking for this construction error to be fixed, and also note that on some parts of the road where the renovation took place over a year ago, there are places where the drains are starting to collapse, which makes the situation even worse.

Matthew Danish